In the 1930s, it was this younger generation, as is often the case with fashion, that lead the trends. Most new fashions evolving out of those hotbeds of experimentation; colleges and universities. This, along with the pursuit of more leisurely activities in the 1930s called for a radical shift in men’s tailoring, with the need for more suitable attire to wear whilst holidaying or taking part in sports activities.
The '30s saw the prevalence of a style of shirt first introduced in the '20s - the spear-point collar. Originally seen as a 'fashion' item, with very long points to the collar, the spear-point settled down to a sensible length and became the go-to item for the stylish gent. This style of collar, like the soft-collars of the 1920s, could be held together with a collar-bar to give the tie emphasis.
The tie continued to be the standout item of clothing in the 1930s, with the width of the tie end increasing in size. Advances in production also meant more intricate patterns and shapes could be printed directly onto the tie or weaved in geometric patterns using brocade.
Although first introduced in 1917 it took a while for men to get to grips with the latest evolution of the trouser – belt loops! More and more men in the '30s started to belt their trousers, especially in the summer months, although a good proportion of men still held onto their braces and refused to switch. Other experiments included extending the waistband upwards to create a drop-belt-loop effect or even higher in a double waistband with all the additional adjusters, buttons and crossover straps to secure them in place without braces.
The '30s saw more aids to the male figure starting to be introduced to suits, belt-backs on jackets to help draw-in the silhouette and vents and pleats added into the sides and backs to aid movement (sometimes called an 'action-back'). We also see the peak-lapel become more horizontal across the chest heading towards the now iconic look of the '40s.
The '20s trend of Boaters, Homburgs and Newsboys is almost entirely replaced in the 1930s with the Trilby or Fedora, at least for those men still wearing hats!
As with belt loops, another style that took a while to take hold was the co-respondent shoe, a two-tone variation of the oxford or brogue. The adoption of this style of shoe led to a number of variations in the '30s, including two-tone versions of gibsons and bluchers, and evolved into the saddle shoe, worn by both sexes.
Without doubt, the classic look of the 1930s gent was the double-breasted wool suit. Add a striped spear-point collar shirt, a silk-brocade tie with collar bar, and finish the look off with oxfords (or if your more daring, co-respondent shoes) and a high-crown fedora.
The epitome of summer style for the '30s man is the three-piece single-breasted linen suit (or if you are lucky enough to find one – a Palm Beach suit), add in a white spear-point shirt, navy polka-dot bow tie, navy and cream saddle shoes and top it all off with a rakishly angled Panama hat.
American Collegiate style:
Like their Oxford counterparts in the '20s American students of the '30s often sported the most up-to-date style, for example: double-height waistband trousers with a wide 28" cuff bottom. Add in a crisp white spear-point shirt, colourful screen-printed rayon tie and a letterman sweater or cardigan; don't forget to pomade that hair into a neat parting to complete the look.
1920s Style Guide - click here
1930s Style Guide - click here
1940s Style Guide - click here
Goodwood Revival Style Guide - click here